Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kickstarting your day and honing your development skills

As per various studies conducted, it has been shown that developers tend to take at least an hour or more to get into the zone, where they are most productive. There are various ways which have been suggested like writing unit tests at the start if the day,etc. to get into the zone. Being a pragmatic programmer, i have found something which has helped me kick-start my day and get into the zone in the minimum time possible. The following recipe has done wonders for me.
At the start of the day, i take up a puzzle and spend 5-10 minutes in analyzing and solving it. Be aware the intent is not to come to a solution, but just to get the gray cells kicking. After this i normally try some programming problem, albeit a simple one using a new language which i am trying to acquire. I spend another 20-30 minutes in solving the problem. The problem could be as simple as trying to find a repeated integer in a list of otherwise unique sequential numbers. Getting these two activities at the start of the day has two-fold advantages. One it focuses the brain and secondly it helps me acquire a new skill. I have even tried using this after prolonged meetings just to get back into the zone. However a word of caution, the intent is not to get to perfection, but to time-box the effort. You can get back to the problems again the next day if you are stuck on something.

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